New York Dolls guitarist Sylvain Sylvain dies at 69

The proto-punk and glam rock pioneer had been battling cancer for the last two and a half years.

Sylvain Sylvain of New York Dolls

Sylvain Sylvain of New York Dolls. Image: Matt Kent / WireImage

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Sylvain Sylvain, best known as the guitarist of the New York Dolls, died Wednesday (13 January) after a long battle with cancer. He was 69.

The news was announced today (15 January) on Sylvain’s Facebook page. Lenny Kaye, a guitarist in the Patti Smith Group, penned a lengthy tribute to the proto-punk and glam rock pioneer. “Sylvain battled cancer for the past two and a half years,” Kaye wrote. “Though he fought it valiantly, yesterday he passed away from this disease. While we grieve his loss, we know that he is finally at peace and out of pain.

“Please crank up his music, light a candle, say a prayer and let’s send this beautiful doll on his way.”

See the full post below.

Sylvain Sylvain MizrahiRest In PeaceFebruary 14, 1951 ~ January 13, 2021As most of you know, Sylvain battled cancer…

Posted by Sylvain Sylvain Mizrahi on Thursday, January 14, 2021

In April 2019, the guitarist revealed that he had been diagnosed with cancer, and set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds for treatment. It is unclear what form of cancer he had.

Sylvain was born Sylvain Mizrahi in Cairo, Egypt in 1951. Not long after his birth, his family fled the country to escape anti-Semitism, eventually settling in New York after a period in Paris.

In 1972, Sylvain befriended New York Dolls drummer Billy Murcia and joined the band, serving as rhythm guitarist until the iconic outfit’s dissolution in 1977. He would also be part of the Dolls’ reunion in the mid-noughties, releasing a trio of records: One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This (2006), Cause I Sez So (2009) and Dancing Backward In High Heels (2011).

Sylvain was also a prolific solo musician. He released his debut solo record, Sylvain Sylvain, in 1979, and continued playing in bands such as The Criminals and The Batusis well into the 2010s.

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